What's next for personalisation - removing the barriers to citizenship

What we need to aim for is the development of safe, strong, self-supporting communities in which the days of simply ringing the council because a frail elderly person needs snow shifting or shopping done is a thing of the past. I think we'll also look back in horror at the way we've so often had to deliver social care responsibilities by bussing someone to a day centre miles away from home for the day, then returning the person to continued isolation afterwards.

In many ways this has been a consequence of a well-intended assumption of responsibility by councils and partners, but the consequence has been a 'leave it to us' approach which has served to reinforce people's dependence on traditional services and overlook the potential care and support potential within communities.

Of course this is over-stated. There are, and always have been, individuals and groups within communities, formal and informal, who with a minimum of fuss provide all sorts of help and support to those who need it, and friendship too. But undoubtedly there is more to do, especially given the unprecedented financial constraints under which statutory services are now operating. And things are changing. In many areas, local councillors are exercising community leadership responsibilities, identifying and encouraging local people to get involved,

And particularly important is the need to see people in need of care and support, if provided with the right care and support, as having the barriers removed to their own citizenship roles. Let me mention my mother, who died ten years ago. She received home care services to help get her up in the morning, but was then able to go across the road to the local primary school and do sessions with the young children about what life was like between the wars. This experience helped retain her own sense of worth, was good for the school and the wider community too. The moral? Let's see services as there to remove barriers to active participation, and never as ends in themselves.

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